Canine Lifeguards

August 25, 2010 | By Katie Leavitt | Category: Entertainment | 12 comments
Tags: heroes, strange but true, entertainment, canine lifeguards, working dogs, rescue animals, rescue dogs, working animals

Originally published August 2010 at Tonic.

Never underestimate the power of a strong doggie paddle!

Every summer hoards of beach-goers swarm the Italian coasts, and each year, the Italian Coast Guard estimates they rescue 3,000 people.

Working along side them is a team of very specialized lifeguards who are responsible for saving many lives during these seaside months — the graduates of canine lifeguarding school.

"Dogs are useful in containing the physical fatigue of the lifeguard, to increase the speed at which casualties are retrieved, to increase the security of both the casualty and of the lifeguard," Roberto Gasbarri, coordinator of the Italian School of Canine Lifeguards, told the Associated Press.

The program is three years long and trains dogs to rescue swimmers in trouble. The lifedogs wear buoys or tow a raft on which the victim can hold on while the dogs pull them to safety. The pups are particularly useful in missions where they need to jump from helicopters or fast boats, as they are much more capable than humans in these extreme situations.

"The dog becomes a sort of intelligent lifebuoy," said Gasbarri. "It is a buoy that goes by itself to a person in need of help, and comes back to the shore also by himself, choosing the best landing point and swimming through the safest currents."

There are currently 300 life-saving pups deployed on the Italian coast lines. Most of the dogs tend to be retrievers, but the only requirement to become a lifedog is weighing more than 66 lbs.

"Being retrievers, they set out to pick up anything we tell them, be it a human being, an object, or a fish, and they bring it back to the shore," said lifeguard Monia Luciani. "They do not associate it with a physical activity, but it is rather a game for them."

To find out more about the Italian School of Canine Lifeguards, visit

Tell us what you think about “Canine Lifeguards” below. Send us your story ideas by e-mailing us at

Check out these related stories:

Empire State Building Goes Dark to Protect Migrating Birds

Closet-Maker Builds Puppy Highchair

Panda Keeper Contest Now Accepting Applications

Photo courtesy of Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio.

Comments (11)

add comment


5 years ago

thats awesome that dogs do all that

Good Point | Reply ›

daryl b.

daryl b.
5 years ago

perfect pic for the perfect rescue dog

Good Point | Reply ›

Add Your Comment

Already have an account? Log in now for faster commenting or Join Zootoo


You might also enjoy:

Top Stories

We’ve all grown accustomed to the many fundraisers and charitable events that the pet industry produces for homeless pets. From pet food companies… more ›

Helping Pet Rescues is Good For Business